Mediation is an informal process where an impartial third party helps disputing parties find mutually satisfactory solutions to their differences. Mediation can resolve disputes quickly and satisfactorily, without the expense and delay of formal investigation and litigation.
Both the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) offer mediation as a means to resolve concerns prior to referring complaints to litigation.
Mediation proceedings are confidential and voluntary for all parties. Mediation typically involves one or more meetings between the disputing parties and the mediator. It may also involve one or more confidential sessions between individual parties and the mediator.
Mediation is neither therapy nor a "day in court." Rather, mediation provides a safe environment for the parties to air their differences and reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Mediators are NOT judges. Their role is to manage the process through which parties resolve their conflict, not to decide how the conflict should be resolved. They do this by assuring the fairness of the mediation process, facilitating communication, and maintaining the balance of power between the parties.
Representation by an attorney is permitted, but not required, in mediation. While mediators may not give legal advice or interpret the law, they will refer parties to impartial outside experts within the disability and legal communities when questions that need clarification arise.
A successful mediation results in a binding agreement between the parties. If mediation is unsuccessful and an agreement can not be reached, parties may still pursue all legal remedies provided under the ADA, including private lawsuits.
To learn more about ADA and mediation through the federal enforcing agencies, visit the EEOC's mediation page if you have an employment concern, and DOJ's mediation page if you have a public accommodation or state/local government concern.
To learn more about mediation training, contact Key Bridge Foundation's Center for Mediation.